Santiago in hot water with Syabas

By Patrick Lee, Free Malaysia Today

Water concessionaire Syabas (Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor) has sued Klang MP Charles Santiago for defamation.

In a letter issued today through law firm Sreenevasan Young, Santiago was given 72 hours to respond over his remarks on Syabas’ water disconnection and reconnection services.

It added that Santiago defamed the water company through statements made in FMT, Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau National and his personal blog.

“The manner in which it was published is… understood to mean that reconnecting water supply is the main source of revenue for Syabas and that water supply is disconnected ‘willy-nilly’ and without basis,” the letter said.

“Further, it casts an imputation that Syabas is profiting wantonly from impoverished families.”

Although not specifying an amount, the letter demanded that Santiago pay “a proper and suitable sum” as well as a reimbursement of costs incurred by Syabas regarding the matter.

It also demanded that Santiago withdraw his remarks, make an official apology in the media and warned against repeating his words in the future.

In October, FMT reported on Santiago’s claims that Syabas collected about RM50 million from reconnecting water supplies in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor.

“What is more alarming is that to reconnect the water supply, these users are charged RM50 each time. If you calculate, from 2005 to 2009, Syabas has collected about RM44.5 million while for 2010, it has collected about RM5 million,” the DAP MP said at the time.

He also claimed that Syabas had caused unnecessary hardship to many impoverished families in the regions serviced by the company.